Pastor's Piece - God's Special Promise
by Dr Barry Wright
God's Special Promise
The post modern world of the 21st century is seen today by many Bible believing Christians to represent the closing age of this earth's history. It would seem to fit the description made by the apostle Paul in a letter to a young man called Timothy who was living in the first century AD.
Living in a Roman dominated world the message given by Paul found in 2 Timothy 3: 1-5 was to provide ominous warnings for the future and a sign that time was running out.
In his letter Paul makes it very clear that '…There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God-having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.'
While these were issues that were to face the church since its inception Paul suggests that their presence in the last days would show a climax of intensity as the world moves apace in it's age long race for moral depravity.
Central to all of these issues is the family home with its responsibility to nurture and train children in the ways of God and to develop respect for those in authority. The passing on of so-called Christian values and a love for the God of heaven were to be the main features of a parent's responsibility to their children. A lack of training in these areas could only bring about the inevitable result, not only in the subsequent disobedience shown by children to their parents, but also disobedience to others in authority and eventually to God himself. The need for obedience is reinforced in Col 3: 20 by the apostle Paul when talking to the children in Colossae. He says to: 'Obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.
Back in Old Testament times, when the written law was given to Moses on Mount Sinai the first four precepts on these tablets of stone were to outline the ideal relationship between God and man. The remaining six commands were then to set forth the duties that individual members in an ordered society were to owe to one another.
I believe it was no coincidence that the first of these found in Exodus 20: 12 was to provide a special promise. We are told very clearly in this verse to 'Honour your father and your mother so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.' It is believed that this promise is not only referring to our time on this earth but also to the earth made new.
Not only does it give the promise of a long life if we respect and obey our parents, but we are also encouraged to respect all rightful authority of church and state. Paul in Romans 13: 1-7 comments further by suggesting that 'Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God [himself] has established'.
However, it is important to note that included in this idea is also the thought that '…those in authority in the home and outside…should so conduct themselves [in such a way] that they are ever worthy of the respect and obedience of those under them' (Nichol, 1953: 606).
While we need to keep this thought in mind, a further commentary on Ex 20: 12 brings us back to our central thought in relation to children and their parents by suggesting that 'Parents are entitled to a degree of love and respect which is due to no other person. God himself who has placed upon them a responsibility for the souls committed to their charge, has ordained that during the earlier years of life, parents shall stand in the place of God to their children. And he, who rejects the rightful authority of his parents, is rejecting the authority of God. The fifth commandment requires children not only to yield respect, submission, and obedience, to their parents, but also to give them love and tenderness, to lighten their cares, to guard their reputation, and to succour and comfort them in old age…' (White, 1958: 308).
We also see in the life of Jesus, His own response to his widowed mother, when from the Cross He willed her to the apostle John as a precious legacy (Richards, 2003: 41). Prior to this event, His home life in His early years was seen by many to provide the pattern for all children and youth (White, 1940: 74).
We are reminded again that, no matter what the age, a child who rejects his parents' authority, will ultimately reject the authority of God (Lantry, 1976: 290, White, 1958: 308).
The fifth Commandment is the first commandment with a promise and is believed to be binding upon all of us from childhood through to old age. It would seem that there is no period of life when children are excused from honouring their parents. This solemn obligation is incumbent on every son and daughter and provides one of the Scriptural conditions for prolonging our lives upon the land that the Lord will give to those who are faithful (White, 1944: 80).
May we all accept the promise of this commandment and, in our faithfulness, enjoy the blessings of this better land right now and throughout eternity.
Lantry, E. E. & J. H. (1976) Stop, Look and Listen. Washington DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association.
Nichol, F. D. (ed) (1953) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary Vol. 1. Washington DC: Review & Herald Publishing Association
Richards, H. M. S. (2003) The Promises of God. Hagerstown, USA: Review & Herald Publishing Association.
White, E. G. (1958) Patriarchs and Prophets. Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association.
White, E. G. (1944) Testimonies for the Church. Vol 2 Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association.
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